Project allofasuddenpartJew: 2013 Recap

As the year 2013 comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the milestones this year for allofasuddenpartJew. From Limmud conferences in Hong Kong and Shanghai, traveling to Japan to visit the Chabad house, and walking around Jewish Lower East Side–I feel I have furthered my understanding of the Jewish people and beliefs.

  • Limmud - A Hebrew word that means learning, I attended my first Limmud conference in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Made a few valuable connections from the Jewish philanthropy and non-profit space.
  • Jewish Japan – Traveled to Japan (My new favorite Asian country) and spent Sukkot at the Chabad House of Tokyo. Many Japanese people are interested in Jewish people. Some Japanese believe they are descendents  of the lost tribes.
  • Melton Mini-School – After an initial Intro to Judaism course at the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong, I felt I needed to go deeper. I enrolled in the Melton Adult Mini-School course at Ohel Leah Synagogue and have enjoyed the teachings from Rabbi Oser.
  • Chinese Studies - Continued my studies in relevant topics. I started to pursue an MA in Chinese Studies at CUHK to deepen my knowledge of China.
  • Jewish New York City - Visited NYC to visit Jewish enclaves like Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.

I have to be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with my social media as much as I would like. My social media stats for as of December 2013 are:

  • Blog – allofasuddenpartJew (83 posts)
  • Facebook – page under the same title (480 Fans)
  • Twitter – account under the same title (285 Followers)

Looking forward to 2014–the year of the horse in Chinese astrology. The horse is a highly respected animal in Chinese culture–one that symbolizes strength, agility, and endurance. Even the German carmaker BMW’s brand name in China is 宝马(Baoma), which literally means treasure horse, contains the character for horse.

Happy New Year 2014!

Chinese Year of the Horse

Chinese Year of the Horse

Project allofasuddenpartJew: 2012 Recap

Has it been already a year?! 2012 sure went fast! As I did last year, here is a quick recap of what happened in 2012.

I took a leap of faith and moved to Hong Kong, my new home. I started a Master’s Degree program at a local university in the discipline of Social Science. 2012 has been a year of learning for me in terms of “Jewishness”. I have been traveling, exploring, and meeting various Jews in Asia and will continue to do so throughout 2013.

Some major 2012 highlights:

I have been in full Jewish culture learning mode. In 2013, I plan to do the same and learn as much as I can about Jews’ culture and history. As of December 30 2012, I have the following stats.

  • Blog – allofasuddenpartJew (52 Posts)
  • Facebook – page under the same title (481 Fans)
  • Twitter – account under the same title (218 Followers)

**Any mention of Jews and Chinese in this blog solely refers to the cultural and historical aspects of both groups. I am apolitical and agnostic and do not plan to be political nor religious in the future.**

Giving Thanks on My One-Year Anniversary in Hong Kong

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it.  During my Introduction to Judaism class, I asked Rabbi Zamek at UJC Hong Kong if Jews celebrate it, he pointed out that American Jews do.  Thanksgiving is neither a Jewish or Chinese specific holiday, it is pure classic Americana.  I hope yours was filled with delicious food, wonderful friends/family, and plenty of shopping on Black Friday the day after! :-)

I can’t believe it has been one year since I moved to Hong Kong from San Francisco! I’ve changed, well sort of, maybe a better term would be I’ve adapted to Asia…

I’m excited for more upcoming holidays (non-Jewish and non-Chinese included): Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, Lunar New Years, etc.  The weather is getting cooler. I love getting bundled up in sweaters, jackets, scarfs, and boots.  Prefer being cold than being hot.

Tonight, I will attend a special Thanksgiving Shabbat service and dinner at the UJC of Hong Kong with some friends from my Introduction to Judaism class. Saturday night, a friend is having a big Thanksgiving dinner extravaganza – I am in charge of Pecan Pie (no oven so I had to buy freshly baked).  Looks like I will be stuffed this weekend! Looking forward to it! :)

Delicious Chinese Buns for Thanksgiving?! Possible!

Ancient Chinese Jews in Kaifeng and Shaolin Kung Fu Here I come!

Visiting Hongkou in Shanghai was fun.  The gift shopkeeper, the guards, and the administrative officers were all so knowledgeable about Chinese Jewish history.  I am writing an opinion article on HongKou. (coming soon!)

In the meantime, intensive Mandarin classes finished and I finally booked train tickets to Zhengzhou (郑州), capital of Henan* (河南) province.  Henan is notable for its historical importance; namely Kaifeng* (开封) was China’s capital during the Song Dynasty (宋朝).  It will be a six-hour train ride from Shanghai to Zhengzhou. I am going headquarter myself in Zhengzhou and take daytrips to Kaifeng, Shaolin Si, and Luoyang. This should be a good trip.  I will be blogging in realtime so hope you will follow me next week! ;-) Until next time!

Henan Trip route

Henan Trip route

*Random Factoids/Chinese Lesson:

  • 开封 or Kaifeng means Open and Close literally.  To break open a seal…
  • 河南 or Henan means South of the River literally.  A province south of the River (Yellow River)

Hong Kong Jewry Photos

Model of the JCC Robinson PlaceInscription on Ohel Leah SynagogueStaircase down to Ohel LeahOverlooking Ohel LeahModern and OldBook of Prayer
Menorah lightedTapestryStar of DavidStained-Glass WindowsPlace markers for the Hebrew BibleWhat's in a Name
Synagogue SeatingAlterP1010153P1010152P1010150P1010149
Door entry view into the SynagogueRabbi's StudyHistory of the SynagogueEarly Jewish Life in HKView from the Jewish Community CenterMap of Jewish Migration to HK and China

allofasuddenpartJew1′s photostream on Flickr.

I recently got a VIP Tour of Ohel Leah Synagogue, United Jewish Congregation, and Jewish Community Center in Mid-Levels Hong Kong. Check out my pics!

Why are the Chinese and Jews so interested in each other?

Professor Xu Xin is a widely respected academic on Judaic studies in China.

Last week, I had the privilege to listen to his lecture titled “Why are the Chinese so interested in the Jews?”  ( I may add, Jews are also interested in the Chinese, it goes both ways!)

Similar to my own perspectives on the reason, I would like to summarize for you here.

Chinese and Jewish Peoples share much in common:

1. Long and continuous history/civilization (Jews have over 5000 years and Chinese have over 3000 years)

2. Common traditions (places importance on education, family, values, and building businesses) (Jewish ladies love to play Mah Jonng! Chinese admire Jews’ business acumen )

3. Similar experiences (both Chinese and Jews have been persecuted and suppressed by others, but both live on, stronger than before)

4. Bright future (both people are set for a new future)

What do you think? Any other thoughts on the connection of the two groups? I would love to hear from you.

Being Jewish and Social in Hong Kong, My Initial Experience

Last Friday, thanks to a Jewish friend of mine, I participated in my first Shabbat service in Hong Kong.

United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong was the setting, with a kosher Shabbat dinner at the nearby Jewish Community Center (JCC) afterwards. Shabbat is a festive day when Jews are freed from the regular labors of everyday life (Wikipedia).

The United Jewish Congregation Sanctuary is part of the Jewish Community Center complex located in the Mid-Levels district in Hong Kong.  The entrance to the auditorium is located in at Castle steps, a small road off of Robinson road. Security was tight as the guard at the door checked our names off his list of attendees.

As I walked into the auditorium, I could hear the Hebrew language radiating throughout the complex in song and speech.  My friend grabbed a book for me that contained all the songs and prayers and I followed along as best as I could.

After the service, we took a tiny elevator (all elevators in HK are claustrophobically small) to another level entering the Jewish Community Center (JCC). We sat down on family-style tables awaiting to be served a Chinese-style kosher dinner. There was Challah bread, baked lamb, roasted vegetables, and chocolate mousse (yum) for dessert. The evening was a special occasion as a couple attending the service was celebrating the birth of their first son.  I met a few other Hong Kong Jews, some traveling through Hong Kong, a young British couple; some long-term residents of Hong Kong, twelve years to be exact.

The Hong Kong Jewish Community is as diverse as the world Jewish community. The first Jews arrived during the mid-19th century via Britain to Hong Kong and helped develop it as a major port city. There is orthodox, reform, and conservative as the major groups.

Next week, I’m going to a talk organized by the Hong Kong Jewish Historical Society and Asian Jewish Life.  The topic is “Why are the Chinese so interested in the Jews”. Looking forward to the conversation and discussion afterwards.

Until next time, adieu!

Hong Kong's Ohel Leah Synagogue, I hope I get a chance to attend as the building is not open to the public.

Project allofasuddenpartJew: 2011 Recap

Earlier this year, over a family gathering in San Jose, I learned that I supposedly had an ancestor who was Jewish.  Great-great-grandfather to be exact mentioned by my mother’s cousin in passing to me. I asked why this was not mentioned earlier, and the response was it was not that important.

I have always been fascinated by different cultures, history, and diversity so it wasn’t long before I became completely absorbed, curious, and obsessed in learning the following 3 things:

  • Genealogy and Family History – confirming, validating, and researching my ‘Jewishness’ through traditional family history research and DNA testing
  • Jewish Culture and History (and how it relates to China) – going to many Jewish events, meeting Jewish people, and reading about Jewish history and culture in and outside of China
  • International Relations – furthering cultural and historical understanding between two groups without politics nor religion.

While I understand my story is still a hypothesis awaiting confirmation; records were not kept to today’s standards and difficult to trace in some areas, my curiosity has not waned but only strengthened over time. I have a soft spot for Jewish (and Japanese) people! Since then I have created three items to help further my learning and goals.

  • Blog – allofasuddenpartJew (29 posts in ~3-5 months)
  • Facebook – page under the same title (272 Fans in ~ 3 months)
  • Twitter – account under the same title (153 Followers in ~ 3 months)

With a recent move to Hong Kong, quitting a job I wasn’t passionate about, and starting grad school, I hope to make 2012 great! I want to touch more Jewish/Chinese fans, non-Jewish/Chinese fans, and spread more cultural understanding and diversity awareness.

**Any mention of Jews and Chinese in this blog solely refers to the cultural and historical aspects of both groups.  I am apolitical and agnostic and do not plan to be political nor religious in the future.**

Crashed the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society member meeting…

Being on Twitter really pays off! I found Linda Frank author of After the Auction on Twitter. Saw her tweet about her talk at the SFBAJGS so I decided to pay a special visit. The meeting was held at Beth Israel in South San Francisco, a drive I have taken before to a nearby golf course.

As soon as I walked into the meeting, I got stares and questions of “are you in the right place?” I am Asian female so definitely looked a bit out of place….in a Synagogue. After I explained my reason for being there “searching for a Jewish great great grandfather”…I was welcomed with open arms.

Some random observations:

1. Only Asian

2. Youngest attendee by at least about 15-20 years (I always knew I’m mature for my age)

3. Everyone is passionate about Jewish genealogy

I walked away with so many resources and even got invited to a American Jewish Committee of San Francisco Board Meeting on my birthday on July 18 by Linda Frank. I accepted the invitation immediately. There is also a Jewish library that I will need to check out….

Everyone that I have met so far has been so supportive of my search….can’t wait to dive in more deeply.

Thank you also to Janice Sellers for sending along the contact info of Peter Nash, a famous China Jews expert…

Until next time…:)

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